Veterans Day and the Other Holidays That People Just Don't Celebrate Like They Used To

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Armistice Day, the holiday Veterans Day was built on, was and is a really big deal in Canada.

These days Veterans Day is simply a holiday celebrating veterans and their service. That's it. But the U.S. version of this holiday used to be a much bigger deal, and in the days before that it was actually another holiday entirely, Armistice Day.

Today some people will definitely remember and maybe they'll thank someone if they see them wearing a uniform or some other hint that they might have served in one of the many wars. But in the public's mind, it's really not the big deal that it once was. In the spirit of the lack of spirit that now surrounds Veteran's Day, we've come up with a list of holidays, including Veterans Day, that are no longer (and in some cases never were) the big, much-celebrated deal they once were in certain parts of the country.

5. Columbus Day. So way back in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue arriving on this side of the ocean on October 12,1492. Of course, Columbus wasn't actually the first to discover the New World. There were Native Americans there forever and the Vikings made it across the big water like 500 years before Christopher Columbus even got his first boat. But Columbus Day has been celebrated in some form since colonial times, by patriotic Americans who want to celebrate patriotism and stuff and by Italian-Americans in particular who view the holiday as a chance to celebrate their heritage, since the guy was Italian and all (the holiday is big in Italy too.) Thus the holiday has been celebrated for the American version of forever (i.e. longer than the United States has existed) and is a particularly big deal in places up North, like New York.

But then once you get to places like Texas, Columbus Day is decidedly less of a thing. Sure we all learn the poem about the sailing and some of us learned the song that talks about the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, but this is nothing close to a shut-the-world-down-we're-having-a-holiday kind of event in this part of the country. It's not that we don't care, so much as we forget to remember this is a big deal. But those who look forward to Columbus Day shouldn't feel too slighted. Texans forget our own holidays almost as easily.


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Former Kroger Worker Sues Grocery Chain, Says Managers Ignored Sexual Harassment

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Michael Kudela via Flicker

Months of unanswered complaints about disturbing sexual harassment by a coworker led a local man to file suit against a Texas grocery store chain last week.


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Police Looking for Fred Durst Doppelgänger Linked to Sexual Assaults

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Investigators with the Harris County Sheriff's Office are looking for a man who they say is preying on women in the Fifth Ward and is responsible for at least four sexual assaults in the past six weeks.

While the police sketch may bear a strange resemblance to Fred Durst, the '90s white-boy rock-rapper popular with aggro frat boys who like to break stuff, this guy is much, much more dangerous.

According to police, the tattooed suspect has been picking up women who are working as escorts in the Fifth Ward area, just northeast of downtown. The women were then driven to Penn City Road in east Harris County, where they were brutally physically and sexually assaulted.


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Texas Man Plays the Ebola Card to Dodge Jail (It Didn't Play Well)

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Victoria County Sheriff's Office
Robert Kirchener claimed he went on missionary trip to Sierra Leone right before he was picked up for public intoxication.

Nobody wants to go to jail, but some people are willing to go that extra mile to try and avoid being behind bars. And sometimes, every so often, there's an extra-special almost-brilliant type who comes up with a get-out-of-jail plan so brazen that all the rest of us can do is stand back in wonder. Robert Brandon Kirchner, of Victoria, is such a man.

Last Thursday, Kirchner, 29, was arrested by the Victoria Police Department for public intoxication. He was duly transported to the Victoria County Jail. That's where things got entertaining, because Kirchner took a rather interesting route to try and avoid jail, according to a Victoria County Sheriff's Office release.

Now, in case you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, people across the Lone Star State have been pretty freaked out since the nation's first Ebola patient arrived in Dallas in late September. We've heard about people dodging Texas weddings over Ebola fear. One family even forbade a relative from visiting after a trip to South Africa (keep in mind that this bout of Ebola has been confined to West Africa, which is a long way from the southern part of the continent.)

Over in Victoria, the Victoria County Sheriff's Office has changed its intake procedures. When booking someone, sheriffs now ask questions -- subtle stuff like, "Have you been to Africa and do you potentially have an incredibly infectious and dangerous disease?" -- meant to determine if you might possibly have Ebola. (Though if the Fox News pundits are right and Ebola is actually being brought in from Mexico, we detect a flaw in their questioning.)


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Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson: HERO Supporters "Will Be Destroyed"

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Reality TV, duck calls and homophobia came to a head this weekend during the "I Stand Sunday" event at Grace Community Church, a protest thrown by conservative Christians in their fight against the "dark forces" and the "radical agenda" that is (apparently) sweeping our nation.

Thousands of people showed up last night for I Stand Sunday, a rally by conservatives against the City of Houston's HERO ordinance, which bans discrimination against gay and transgender people. The televised service featured speeches from a number of well-known conservative leaders, including Fox News host Mike Huckabee and the Duck Dynasty reality star Phil Robertson.

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Babysitter Accused of Causing Toddler's Scalding Death

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A Houston woman has been arrested and charged in connection with the scalding death of a toddler whose injuries were so devastating that the skin around her elbows "slipped off" when she was removed from the boiling water.

20-year-old Carmen Pleasant was babysitting Nevaeh Cornwall, 2, and a younger sibling on July 31 when, according to court documents, she found the toddler in a tub full of scalding water so hot that the child eventually died from the injuries.


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E-cig, Vape Users Brace for FDA Regulations

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Photo by Susan Du
Thomas McCool of New Element Fine Vapors

Cloud blowers, flavor connoisseurs, smokeless e-cig puffers, surreptitious stoners, cancer patients trying to quit cigarettes -- Houston's e-cigarette and vape consumers as are diverse as the products created in the local DIY market. It's a market that's been allowed to frankenstein and modify new contraptions for vaporizing countless blends of liquid nicotine and flavored juices to the point that no two sonic screwdrivers meeting up at a bar have to be alike.

But with the FDA proposing to crack down, mom and pop vendors are holding their breath to see if regulation will stomp out innovation.

The FDA proposes permitting blends, limiting vending machine sales and free samples, marketing with health warnings and imposing a strict age limit. Ads claiming that e-cigs and vapes are healthier than regular cigarettes will require the backing of direct scientific evidence.

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DPS Tells Mayor Parker's Daughter She Can't Have Two Moms

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We already know that Texas' bullheaded stance on gay marriage -- that it won't in any way recognize it, even if couples were married in other states -- trickles down to individual Texas Department of Public Safety clerks. Same-sex couples in Texas have to navigate roadblocks that can royally screw with your day, even if you're the mayor of the 4th largest city in the country.

A tweet from Mayor Annise Parker caught some of that frustration with DPS Thursday, after one of the Houston offices barred her daughter from taking a driving test because, well, her daughter has two moms.

Parker, who is the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, wed her longtime partner in January, but the two women jointly adopted this child and her older sister in 2003. Both women are legally her parents.


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Study Focuses on Youth Pot Use, Should Focus on Pill Popping Instead

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Regional Needs Assessment
The Prevention Resource Center at the Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston has released its annual Regional Needs Assessment, which gathers a ton of data and compiles it to identify everything you need to know about substance abuse.

The study shines a light on what's going on in our area (Region 6, officially), which includes data compiled from Harris and 12 other counties, with a focus on the adolescent population in Houston.

While it's certainly beneficial to have data on adolescent drug use, what's unusual is how focused on pot the study appears to be. Buried under some fear-mongering statistics about weed -- juveniles are most often arrested for weed! synthetic marijuana may fool kids! -- there are some seriously harrowing statistics on alcohol and prescription pill use among kids in the Houston area.

Let's read between the lines, shall we?


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HERO's Arch-Nemesis, the Alliance Defending Freedom

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Photo by Aaron Reiss
It's no coincidence that the City of Houston, Mayor Annise Parker, City Attorney David Feldman and company asked for any communication between the five local pastors and Alliance Defending Freedom (other parts of the subpoena were likely ill-advised, but that's neither here nor there) when they sent out that controversial subpoena that has been getting so much attention. After all, the ADF is a religious right organization dedicated to opposing LGBT rights the way the rest of us are dedicated to breathing and love of the Beatles, so if ADF lawyers have been advising local pastors on how to repeal HERO, that would certainly be worth knowing.

But what exactly is the ADF? The organization, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, was created in 1994 by group of high-profile activists from the religious right, including including James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.

The group operates with a budget of more than $30 million, an army of more than 2,000 lawyers who adhere to ADF principles, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They specialize in legal work where they believe that religious freedom is being violated, though of course "religious freedom" only entails the views of those who agree with ADF. Basically these people see themselves as the anti-ACLU, a group that they contend has been working to promote "an anti-Christian, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual agenda on the Body of Christ in Europe, Canada, Latin America, and elsewhere," according to the ADF website.

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